Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Journey Home {Our Adoption Story}

For as long as I can remember, I wanted to be a mom.  And before I wanted to be a mom, I wanted to be a big sister. I was the baby in the family. Growing up, I always wanted my mom to have another baby. When I realized that wasn’t going to happen, I focused all of my attention on being the best mom I could be to my doll Susie Q.

Fast forward to June 1, 2002. My wedding day. Michael and I had been together since November of 1996. We graduated from high school together, went away to college together, and now were ready to start our adult lives together. Shortly after getting married, we packed up our belongings and moved 1600 miles from home. Michael had been offered a one year internship at the FASB that we couldn't pass up. We said goodbye to our friends and family and began married life in a new state. It was summer when we arrived and I had yet to find a teaching job, so when Michael was at work, I was home by myself. I was lonely. I began hoping and wishing for a baby, but this time it wasn’t a brother or sister I was wishing for, it was a son or daughter. Michael wasn't ready (what 22 year old guy is?), so I had to settle for a puppy.

In November of 2002, we began looking for a dog. In December, we traveled home to Texas for Christmas and came back to Connecticut with a 6 week old Golden Retriever we'd named Bailey. The first few months we got to experience what it might be like to have a new baby. She would wake us up in the middle of the night and we’d have to trek outside in the snow so she could use the restroom, and then she’d cry when we tried to put her back to bed. One of my good friends who had two kids would listen to my stories and tell me it was just like having a baby. Well, almost.

We stayed in Connecticut for a year and then it was back to Texas. We built our first house, I got a teaching job at the same school as my sister, and Michael began his job at E&Y. In 2006 we finally decided we were settled enough to try to have a baby. I had been taking birth control pills for several years to regulate my periods, so when I stopped taking them it was a bit of an adjustment. After we started trying I did what every girl does, I went out and bought pregnancy tests. Month after month the results came back negative. My sister and her husband had struggled to get pregnant, so they were able to share their experiences and advice with us. We called the fertility specialist they'd used and made an appointment. We tried clomid. It didn't work. Michael went in for tests. Before we got the results of his tests we started talking about adoption. My sister and her husband had researched adoption prior to getting pregnant with twins, so we were once again armed with information. I had submitted our initial application to the Gladney Center for Adoption prior to Michael's appointment, and we received confirmation that we were approved to attend their information seminar before we went in to get the results of Michael's tests. We talked and kind of felt like God was leading us in the direction of adoption, that our path to a family would be different than most, but still ours. When we went to Michael's appointment we found out that he would need to have a procedure done at the same time I was going through in vitro. There was no guarantee it would work, but that was the route we were offered. This only served to confirm the decision we'd already made: we were going to adopt! 

In November of 2006, we attended an all day adoption seminar at the Gladney Center. At the end of the day we left feeling confident that we were meant to adopt, and we knew everything that went along with it. We were pretty sure we wanted to adopt through Gladney, but we decided to attend another adoption seminar to see what other options there were. A few weeks after attending the Gladney seminar we attended a seminar at Catholic Charities. We came in full of adoption knowledge because of all that we had learned at the Gladney seminar, and we left feeling like we knew more than the ladies who were facilitating the seminar at Catholic Charities. Don't get me wrong, Catholic Charities does amazing things, it just wasn't the agency for us. We immediately began filling out our application to adopt through Gladney. It was a long process filled with home visits, trainings, and lots of paperwork, but finally in July of 2007 we found out that we had been approved to adopt! Once you're officially approved it's like you're officially expecting! Except in the case of adoption, you don't know how long you'll have to wait to hold your precious baby in your arms! At the Gladney seminar we went to, they said the average wait for domestic adoption is anywhere from 4-14 months.

Once we were approved, we began working on our adoption profile. It's basically a scrapbook of your life to share with potential birthmoms. In early August we handed copies of our profile to our caseworker. We decided it was time to start getting a nursery ready (again, when you're adopting you never know when the baby will be coming, so it makes sense to at least have furniture in the nursery). We ordered the furniture and it was delivered on September 8, 2007. 

On September 12th I received a call from my caseworker. There had been what's called a "drop in" ~ a birthmother who says she has chosen adoption after giving birth. A baby girl was born on September 9, 2007. Did we want our profile shown? Um, yes!! Try as I might not to get my hopes up, I hung up and told a colleague, "My daughter was born on September 9th!" I knew it didn't make sense for her to pick us since it had only been a month since we'd given our profile to Gladney, but my heart was telling me she was ours! We waited nine days for the call. Finally, on September 21st when I was a Red Robin for happy hour after work I received a phone call. I squealed, "Are you serious?" and quickly dashed for the exit (Michael wasn't with me, my sister and friends were, and I wanted him to be the first one to know). Our caseworker gave me all of the information I needed and I called Michael. Since the birthfather was not around to sign away his rights, they had to put him on a paternity registry, which meant we had to wait thirty days before we could meet her and bring her home. Torture! They did send us one picture of us that night. Look at those cheeks! 

We decided that even though we had a few weeks to get ready we needed to get to Babies 'R Us that night to register, buy bedding, etc (my sister and friends immediately started planning a baby shower). I called my parents and they met my sister, Michael, and I at BRU to start shopping! We bought bedding and other essentials and registered for the rest. 

The next day our caseworker called with the name and number of the transitional care home that she would be staying in while we waited. Momma Angela and her husband Kevin were amazing! She called me daily with updates and sent plenty of pictures. It made the wait a little easier knowing she was in good hands.

As hard as it was for us not to bring her home right away, the thirty day waiting period allowed us to have three baby showers (one with Michael's coworkers, one at the school I taught at, and one with family and friends). We were overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and generosity of our friends and family, and were ready to bring our baby girl home! 

On October 15, 2007, we went to the Gladney Center for placement. Both sets of grandparents and Michael's sister joined us at Gladney. When we arrived they brought us to one of the placement rooms. We sat down and waited for what seemed like forever (in reality it was probably only 15-20 minutes). Finally Kevin walked in with Sophia. It was love at first sight! He handed her to me and Michael and I just stood there staring at our beautiful daughter, Sophia Renee.

We finally moved to the couch so she could eat, and after spending some time with Momma Angela and Kevin we took a family picture and headed home. 

When we arrived home she was ready for a nap, and of course Michael was too! This soon became her favorite place to sleep!

Fast forward a year to her first birthday. We started to talk about adopting again. Cost was a factor, and we were pretty content with our little family of three (four if you count Bailey!). We knew we eventually would want to adopt again, but we were having too much fun with our little toddler and it just wasn't the right time. We decided to wait to resubmit our application.

On July 5, 2009 I received a call from our caseworker at Gladney that changed everything! Sophia's birthmother had given birth to a baby boy on April 8th. Did we want to bring him home? We were in the car and Michael was only hearing my end of the conversation, so I told her I'd talk to him and call her back. It took about three minutes for us to call her back and say yes! We had a son! 

Because we hadn't submitted an application to adopt a second time we had to go through background checks, fingerprinting, trainings, home visits, etc before we could bring him home. Again! This time we got to meet him before placement. It was love at first sight!

We were also provided with lots of pictures of our sweet boy!

On July 21st we did placement at our house. Sophia was in love with her baby brother, Carter Michael. We all were! 

I truly believe that everything leading up to the moment we brought them both home was all part of God's plan. We are their parents because He wanted us to be. We are truly blessed! We often get asked if we will adopt again, and our answer always is, "It just depends if the phone rings!" If it's in His plan, then we will. But we leave it in His hands.



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